Hello, again, readers! I hope you are having a wonderful day!
Currently, we are halfway through our TRIP program (reaching the end of our 3rd week), and it has been quite a rollercoaster, phew! Specifically, I have been working on my introductory project, as I am determining how red clover and sugar affect fertility. In this scenario, my drug was the red clover (which was known to boost fertility), and my stressor was a high sugar diet (which was known to reduce fertility).
Apart from my introductory project, I set out to discover my independent project– something that had been known to affect my life. My family in India despises modern medicine, despite how fast the remedy may be, and they rather depend on naturopathy/allopathy, specifically in terms of ayurvedic medicine. Therefore, I came upon this project to truly see which type of medicine is the most effective and beneficial to humans without many of the widespread side effects. The benefits of homeopathy are quite prevalent and contain much fewer detriments, contrary to allopathy. Additionally, the rise of “Big Pharma”, the large amount of stress and breaks in the US healthcare system, and the rising corruption in the pharmaceutical industry led me to my question:How do Penicillin & Streptomycin (mixture) and Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) affect fertility and rate of growth, and what does it illustrate in terms of allopathy and homeopathy in its effectiveness as antibiotics?
This question, as I knew it from the start, was not going to be easy to prove. Additionally, there has not been any forms of research comparing the differences and similarities of a mixture of Penicillin & Streptomycin and Shatavari, as it is quite uncommon. In order to start this project, I needed to establish my main assays, and they include a microbiome assay (quantifying the gut bacteria of flies through the various amounts of antibacterial drugs), a male & female fertility assay (determining the quantity of successful offspring), and an overall growth assay (through an image analysis of the Fiji ImageJ software). With a large number of assays to test and prove my question, I am now ready to start this project in all its entirety!
Additionally, in conjunction with the TRIP initiative program, I have been able to further become an independent person. From taking the train to walking around the city, I find myself in awe of how wonderful urban life is and how discrete it is to the little suburbia I live in. In the end, I can’t wait to see how well my project goes, and I also can’t wait to update you all on how the project goes! Until next time!
I had a lot of fun on my second day in the lab. I really felt supported when I needed help making the dilutions and solutions. We shorted flies male and female using both techniques with the CO2 and the ice method. The CO2 method was a lot easier to work with. The ice method works just fine but you have to be a lot more careful with not getting the flies' wings wet because that will cause them to die in the long run.and if they aren't fully on the ice they can start to wake up. I also got to make grape plates. I felt like a scientist. Doing the math correctly really sets you up nicely to ensure that you can run your protocol smoothly. I'm so glad that I took the opportunity to participate in this program.
I think that the drug that I'm going to use on my flies will be Sildenafil, otherwise known as Viagra. I know it's a little bold but I'm really curious to see if it affects the reproductive system positively or negatively. I'm trying to think up another project, one that's not so straightforward. All I can think about is presenting my independent project and having the word VIAGRA in bold letters.
Welcome back! I’m halfway through my TRIP Journey: week 3! Since the last time I wrote, I have conducted an introductory experiment testing the effect of St. John’s Wort and constant darkness on fruit flies' mood. I collected and presented my data to my TRIP peers as well. Over the past few weeks, I have gotten to know my peers and look forward to sharing the lab with them.
After finishing up our introductory experiments, it was time to create our own independent research project. At first I wanted to test the side effects of high cholesterol in flies by feeding them a high-fat diet. But I quickly strayed away from this as the consequences for high cholesterol are thoroughly researched in humans, my questions would not be novel. So I decided to take a different approach to cholesterol. Over 200 million people take cholesterol medicine (statins) to control their high cholesterol. So what would happen if a patient were to continue taking stains when their cholesterol has come to a normal range? Would prolonged use of a medication patients didn’t need negatively affect them? Millions of people do not have access to quality health care around the world. While a patient could get prescribed cholesterol medicine, they may not have to means for a follow up appointment with their doctor to get their cholesterol tested again. We see articles about increasingly high cholesterol without a sedentary lifestyle, we hear about the news of a loved one’s passing due to heart problems because they had high cholesterol, so everyone knows of the negative consequences of cholesterol. But what about the medicine that control it? Modern medicine has done extraordinary things for millions of people, but not everyone can access healthcare workers for annual checkups. This idea gave way to my independent research project.
What effect does Lipitor medication have on fruit flies overall growth and development?”
My question is “What effect does lipitor medication have on fruit flies overall growth and development?” I set up my experiment yesterday and I am very excited to run my first assay tomorrow to test how the lipitor has affected the fruit flies’ bodies. Keep an eye out for my updates to learn more about my project and how it's going!
Hey guys! Glad to see you’re back. If you forgot from before, my name is Laney. We are halfway through Week 3 of TRIP and it truly has been a wild ride. While I knew this program involved math, I greatly underestimated the amount of math I would actually do in this program and the amount of times one person alone could screw up a math problem. Math is absolutely not my forte in any way, and I’m very glad I learned that before I go to college. Additionally, I am extremely grateful for my fellow TRIPmates, especially Charity, as well as Dr. Leystra for taking the extra time to help me better understand the math I struggled with so much. Outside of my frustration with math, TRIP has been so much fun! I’ve missed being in a lab so much. It’s so exciting to be back, with like-minded people so excited to learn about science and research. We still have a few weeks left and I am so excited for them! This is such an exciting experience that I will never be able to forget.
My original independent project plan wasn’t really a plan. At first, I didn’t know what I wanted to do at all, but after thinking about it, as an incoming Neuroscience major, I decided I wanted to study cognitive function in some way. After talking with Dr. Leystra and my fellow TRIPmates, I decided to study the effects of Prozac on memory with a stressor of isolation. I’m surprised I didn’t think of this project sooner. I love learning about the brain and mental illness. Isolation will put the flies in a depressed-like state for the flies. This will then stress them out and could negatively affect their memory. The goal of this project is to see how Prozac impacts memory, as there are currently very mixed results with this topic and most studies are done in patients with fatal brain disease. I chose Prozac because it is a drug I am currently on, which means I have access to it, as well as an understanding of how it impacts me personally. I am doing the Proboscis Extension Response (PER) assay to determine the flies memory, using sugar water to determine if they are able to recognize positive feedback with a specific sound. I am so very excited to begin doing this experiment. Yesterday I did a bunch of prep work to get ready for this assay and I can’t wait. It is definitely going to be an insane amount of work and will most likely stress me out greatly, but I am confident it will be worth it.
Hi guys! Emily here. I didn’t realize we were halfway through the program already. Wow, time really ‘flies’. We are currently on week 3 of TRIP and have begun our independent projects! I find myself eagerly waiting for every Tuesday and Thursday of the week to be part of the lab and can not wait to see how far the projects will take us.
After the introductory experiments, it is time for our personal independent experiments. I value women’s health. Although pregnancy is not desirable for everyone, many women struggle with infertility which brings social and psychological problems to their health; women’s reproductive health affects their overall wellbeing, mental health, hormones, dietary restrictions, etc. Therefore, seeking a possible solution, I found Angelica Sinensis. Angelica Sinensis, also known as Dong Quai, has been used in Chinese medicine for a long time; mainly for female reproductive health. I want to test how accurately and to what extent this herb has an effect on the rate of female fertility. Hopefully, I will be able to receive positive results!
It's been two weeks since I wrote my last blog. Quite a lot has happened in the past two weeks, and I want to share a couple of my learnings to date about TRIP.
Second is that finding a research topic is a lot harder than I anticipated. Two weeks ago, I had lots of ideas that I thought were good. I was inspired by topics like water pollution, over-the-counter drug addiction, and others. All sound exciting and meaningful. But I soon realized how impractical they are once I needed to turn the topic into measurable results over a three-week period. That thinking process finally took me to an idea that feels very personal to me, that is sleep deprivation. I never get that much sleep due to extracurricular and school work. My parents and my pediatrician constantly warn me that 8 hours of sleep is vital for good brain function. It made me wonder: if someone has to give up sleep time, is there a minimum number of hours that you can give away but cause relatively less damage to your health? And can sleep deprivation be reversed by catch-up sleep? That became the topic for my research.
Until next time, stay healthy and wish you at least 8 hours of sleep each day.
Hello Everyone, it’s Charlotte (again)! As we conclude day 6 of the program, I can’t believe how quickly these past 3 weeks have flown by. When we first started our introductory experiments, I was shocked at the detail that was needed to perform each assay and analyze our data, even though we already had our research questions provided! I performed the Open Field Test to measure the anxiety levels of my flies and analyzed the data, which I found to be repetitive, but still interesting and eye opening!
Now, moving on to my independent project! When I was brainstorming ideas for my project, I was immediately drawn to the gut due to the variety of assay options that studying the gut offers, but more importantly because I was enthralled by its biomechanics and how food can affect such important structures. Once I narrowed down my topic to the gut, it was natural for me to test how spice and vinegar affects it. My family is from Malaysia and China, and for our household, high spice tolerance is practically a requirement. However, my grandparents frequently send articles talking about how high levels of spice correlate to gastrointestinal problems and diseases. When I did further research, I found that vinegar and pickled foods could counteract some negative effects that are triggered by spice, such as heartburn. Thus, I’m studying how spice affects gut permeability and health, and whether pickled foods can counteract that effect.
The first few weeks of TRIP have flown by, and I am glad to say that I have enjoyed them thoroughly. I felt like a true scientist while diluting drugs with micropipettes, sorting unconscious flies with paintbrushes, and creating grape plates with Juicy Juice. There were certainly moments when I stepped out of my comfort zone and felt unsure about my abilities; many of the processes in the lab are new to me. However, the collaborative environment created by the staff and students ensures that I always receive the support I need. I feel like there is always someone to provide an answer when I have a question. Plus, all the friends that I have made at TRIP are super cool and make even the most mundane tasks (such as creating labels for vials) more enjoyable.
Before jumping into our independent project, my TRIP friends and I each performed an introductory experiment to get us comfortable with the lab. My introductory experiment sought to determine whether a disrupted circadian rhythm and/or a dose of St. John’s Wort (an herbal medicine supposed to treat mild depression) had an impact on fly mood. I found this project super engaging for several reasons. For one, I was genuinely interested in the question, since I often experience brain fog or anxiety when I go to sleep at a weird time. Additionally, learning how to knock out and sort flies was unexpectedly fun and satisfying. I did feel bad dumping the flies into the “Fly Morgue” at the end of the experiment, however.
Then, before I knew it, it was time to start brainstorming for my independent project! At first, I had no clue what I wanted to study. However, after sitting down and thinking about my hobbies and habits, I decided that I wanted to study the effectiveness of the common pre-workout ingredient L-Citrulline on providing energy to sleep deprived flies. As someone who exercises often, whether it be lifting with my friends or (preferably not) running for a sport, I hear a lot about fitness supplements. One particularly popular supplement is pre-workout, which I sometimes take for an energy boost when I am tired. However, pre-workout powders often contain upwards of 10 or 15 ingredients, which made me wonder whether these ingredients were necessary for providing energy - or if one would be better off saving money and drinking coffee! L-Citrulline in particular is a supplement that claims to provide energy and is common in many pre-workout mixes yet has little research supporting its effectiveness. After completing copious (though definitely necessary) worksheets and exercises in preparation for my independent project, I am very excited to begin working on it.
My first two weeks of TRIP have been packed full of learning, making new friends, and growing as a person and researcher. I loved getting acclimated to the environment of the lab within the commotion of Philly. So far I’ve been most fascinated by the parallels between a mere fruit fly to the amazing human body. Sorting flies was tedious but a rewarding experience when all was said and done.
But now, the true fun of my internship begins with the long-awaited independent research project. Upon embarking on a vegan lifestyle a few years ago, I have received some *interesting* critiques of this diet from friends and family. One objection my grandmother often repeats is that she suspects my vegan diet will impact my ability to give her great-grandchildren in the future. I thought this to be a fascinating concern, given the overlap between veganism, the climate crisis, and female fertility. Upon conducting some initial research, the science behind whether veganism helps or hurts fertility is quite conflicting. While a vegan diet provides many vital micronutrients, it often lacks Vitamin B12, a critical vitamin for fertility. Through the guidance of Dr. Leystra, Ms. P, and my incredible TRIP peers, I’ve arrived at my research question, "How does a plant-based protein diet compare to an animal-based protein diet when supplemented with vitamin B12 for female fruit fly fertility?"
I am looking forward to having the opportunity to answer this thought-provoking question while developing my skills as an independent researcher. I will keep you, my internet audience, informed as this TRIP of a lifetime flies by!
It’s me, Anjali, again. It is unimaginable to believe that we are officially halfway done with the TRIP Initiative! The time has completely ‘flown’ by and I have made the most inspiring friends along the way. I am so thankful for all the amazing experiences I have had and all the ways that I have grown as a learner and as a person. We’ve come so far, but there are so many wonderful things yet to come! I wouldn’t want to have it any other way, I’ve come to love the tiny creatures that are often seen as a pest. Now I look at fruit flies and see a complex organism with roughly 70% of our genetic makeup that we can learn so much from.
If you would have asked me a month ago how I would go about creating my own independent research project I would have stared at you dumbfounded. In just a few weeks, with the help of the most supportive instructors, I was able to do this! Create a project proposal? Calculate and make highly diluted drug stocks and concentrations? Present my findings to my peers? Create a research assay and procedure? Train fruit flies and look at their short-term memory abilities? Yep…all of that I am able to do here at TRIP in just a few short weeks, it is an absolutely indescribable feeling. I’m continuing (like I mentioned last time) to grow in the beauty of mistakes and failure because that is when our resilience is strengthened.
I’m continuing...to grow in the beauty of mistakes and failure because that is when our resilience is strengthened
You may be wondering, Anjali, get to the point! What is your research project going to be about and how could you possibly be so passionate about it? Well, it all started when I was hooked on the idea of studying the behavior of fruit flies and specifically how memory works. I went to Dr. Leystra and I asked,” I know it may sound crazy, but would it be possible to train the fruit flies to perform a task?” Of course, she said there are definitely multiple ways to look at how fruit flies learn. I knew that I wanted to study how adult flies learn…Unfortunately, that current assay takes 10 hours per session!! So I thought back to the drawing board…Then I started thinking we are studying fruit flies surprisingly not to learn about fruit flies, but rather learn about ourselves and the world around us. We have all been in the position where we are cramming the night before a big test hoping we will absorb the necessary information. How many of us have become sleep deprived after a night of studying? According to one survey published by BBC, 99% of students admit to having crammed before. Sometimes these situations are unavoidable and are just a part of being human. So I set out to see how a popular gummy, the OLLY Goodbye Stress supplement that claims to increase focus and decrease stress actually affects our short-term memory and focus in a test-like scenario. This is why my research question is, “How does a de-stress supplement gummy that claims to increase brain alertness (Olly–Contains: GABA, L-Theanine & Lemon Balm) impact short-term memory of negative reinforcement training tasks when an adult fly experiences sleep deprivation?"
For this, I wanted to look at negative reinforcement in relation to retaining information. This is not an assay that has ever been utilized by students at TRIP before, so that is why I am currently in the process of creating it! In a nutshell, I will heat shock the fruit flies by using a warm water bath (to make them feel a bit uncomfortable) while being exposed to a certain odor. The hope is that when they are in a T-maze pictured below, with 2 odors they will travel to the tube with the neutral scent that they have not been exposed to with a negative association before.
That’s all for now, I can’t wait to update you on how everything went!
Thank you so much for reading, until next time,